Chief Achike Udenwa
Governor of Imo State (1999 – 2007)
Chief Achike Uzoma Udenwa was born in Enugu, Enugu State on October 20, 1948 to Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Felicia Udenwa of Amaifeke in Orlu LGA of Imo State. He had his primary education at St. Mary’s Catholic School, Amaifeke, and Sacred Heart School, Odoakpu, Onitsha where he finished with Distinction in the First School Leaving Certificate Examination in 1961. In 1962, he gained admission into Government College, Umuahia, and obtained his West African School Certificate with a Grade One score in 1966.
In 1967, he enrolled for the Higher School course in the same school to read Physics and Mathematics. In the same year and same year was admitted into Course Three of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). He could not continue the course because of the outbreak of the civil war.
He therefore joined the Biafran Army and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and rose to the rank of Captain before the end of the war in 1970. At the end of the war, he enrolled into the College of Technology Enugu (later Institute of Management and Technology) where he obtained a Diploma in Accountancy. He was the Secretary of the Students Union.
On leaving school, he worked briefly with a Bank before joining Peat, Marwick, Casselton, Elliott & Company (later Peat, Marwick, Ani, Ogunde & Co) where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1976. He rose to the rank of Audit Manager in 1981 and then joined Monier Construction Company (MCC) as Financial Controller in 1983. He rose to the position of Commercial Manager and Company Secretary up till 1991 when contested for the Governorship seat in Imo state.
While in school in Enugu as Secretary of the Students Union, he came in contact with Alhaji Aminu Kano in 1971. This was to shape his future political career. He found the former NEPU chief an ideal political leader who devoted his life to the welfare of the less privileged. In 1975 he joined Aminu Kano’s National Unity Club (NUC).This was formed in anticipation of Gowon’s promised 1976 transition. When 1976 became unrealistic, the club had to wait till 1979 when it transformed into the People’s Redemption Party (PRP). In 1983, he contested for the primaries of Orlu Federal constituency under the platform of Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) – courtesy of the Progressive Governor’s Forum arrangement. He was seen as a stranger and therefore did not succeed. He continued in active politics and in 1992 he joined the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In 1997/98 he joined the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) under the Abacha transition programme as a gubernatorial aspirant. This was aborted by Abacha’s death later in 1998.
Under the Abdulsalami Abubakar’s transition programme he became a foundation member of People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In January 1999 he contested and won the Governorship election in Imo state and was sworn in as Governor in May1999. In 2003 he again contested and was re-elected for a second term. In 2007 he completed his two terms as governor.
In 2008, he was invited to the cabinet of Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and appointed Minister of Commerce and Industry and member of Federal Executive Council. He served in this capacity till April 2010 following the death of the President He left to run his private business.